Walk Bike Fingal: A Plan for Social Distancing in the Public Realm
Fingal County Council is setting out a new plan, Walk Bike Fingal, to assess and repurpose public road space to facilitate the increase in cyclists and pedestrians currently by giving them extra space to practice social distancing from each other.
Eight locations across Fingal have been identified under the first phase of the initiative and the works will include physical segregation such as barriers and cones.
The areas identified are: Laurel Lodge to Phoenix Park, Castleknock; a section of Drogheda Street in Balbriggan; Harbour Road in Skerries; Main Street and Howth Road, both Howth; New Street in Malahide; and Strand Road, Portmarnock village.
With this plan, Fingal aims to temporarily provide residents with safe space to walk, run, exercise and travel by bike and adhere to the 2m rule. Fingal seeks to encourage physical activity at a safe social distance thereby improving the physical and mental health of its citizens during this time of restricted movements. Fingal is introducing these temporary measures in consultation with local Gardai.
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Eoghan O’Brien, said: “The Plan for Social Distancing in the Public Realm will repurpose and reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists to facilitate social distancing whilst walking, cycling or queuing outside shops. This will make a genuine difference to the health and safety of all citizens using Fingal’s pavements and roads during the restrictions.
“Once these initial changes have been implemented, other areas will be assessed with a view to putting in place similar measures. These changes present an opportunity to progress further debate around how best to use public realm space in our towns and villages as we continue a journey towards making these spaces safer for pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users. I’m hopeful that many of these temporary changes will result in longer term improvements to the public realm in Fingal."
Chair of the Transport & Infrastructure Management Strategic Policy Committee, Cllr. Ted Leddy, said: “As Chair of the Strategic Policy Committee on Transport & Infrastructure Management, I am delighted to welcome this innovative and sensibly planned approach by the Operations Department to accommodate Fingal citizens safe during the difficult time we currently find ourselves in. Access to the outdoors is essential for people to benefit both their physical and mental health during the Covid-19 crisis. However, it must be while we all are adhering to the 2m social distancing rule and within 2km of our homes.”
Director of Operations at Fingal County Council, David Storey, added: “The temporary repurposing of Fingal’s paths, roads and public realm spaces is to help all of our residents to get out for exercise and time outside while being able to respect the 2m social distancing requirements. Covid-19 has changed many things in our lives recently and we need to adapt the facilities and infrastructure we have to help our residents.”
Fingal County Council Operations Department carried out an initial needs assessment to temporarily repurpose Fingal streets, roads and public realm spaces with the current needs of users in mind including those with prams and wheelchairs.
During the assessment, it was determined that vehicular traffic on the roads had fallen nearly 50% with a corresponding fall in public transport use by 75% since the commencement of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Following an initial assessment, Fingal County Council engineers devised a phased plan for locations in Fingal towns and villages.
These locations will have measures put in place to improve the social distancing in the public realm. The measures will be closely monitored by Council engineers and reviewed at intervals as the Government restrictions changes.